Leadership and Political Participation

Gender balance in leadership remains elusive – just 1 in 5 parliamentarians globally is a woman. As the 2011 UN General Assembly resolution on women’s political participation notes, “Women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from the political sphere, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to healthcare and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.”

UN Women provides training for women political candidates to help build their capacities, and offer civic education and sensitization campaigns on gender equality. It advocates for legislative and constitutional reforms to ensure women’s fair access to political spheres – as voters, candidates, elected officials and civil service members.

Recent Successes

Latin America and the Caribbean: The Parliament for Latin America and the Caribbean has put its region on track for ‘parity democracy.’ After three years of advocacy and expertise provided by UN Women, the assembly drafted and approved in November 2015 a new regional provision guiding national parliaments to achieve gender equality and parity in decision-making.


Kenya: In the 2013 elections, the number of women legislators rose to over 20 percent, more than double compared to the previous elections. UN Women contributed to this result by providing training to nearly 900 female candidates in all 47 counties and by running a Campaign for Women in Leadership to encourage voters to vote for women.

Pakistan: In 2012, UN Women supported women’s voter registration. The National Database and Registration Authority registered more than 40 million women, representing 86 percent of the female population, increasing from 44 percent four years earlier.

To learn more about what UN Women is doing to promote women’s leadership and political participation, see the 2016 annual report.